As a mom of three (ages 9, 7, and 4) I’ve experienced my fair share of moments when I wanted to admit defeat and run away. Burnout is not just a thing you can do in a muscle car. It’s a real-life byproduct of the business of motherhood. If you’re an imperfect mom like me and you feel ready to quit, know you’re not alone. Take a few moments to yourself, have a coffee or some tea, and reflect on these reminders to bring you peace of mind and heart.
Your best is best for your kids. Some days our best is awesome and some days our best is, well, nothing more than basic survival. Either way, no one can love or care for your kids like you can. No one knows them like you do. No one can better fill your shoes. Not even those modelesque, always-on-time, cookie baking, crafty moms you might want to punch every once in a while. And your best, even when it’s not the best ever, is just what your kids need.
Don’t compare apples and turnips. You’ve probably heard this illustration using apples and oranges, both of which are fruits, but I prefer to say apples and turnips because many families I know aren’t even in our same food group. And that’s okay! Avoiding comparison between yourself and other moms or your kids and other kids seems like a simple mission, but it’s challenging. Every person and every family is different, even when they have things in common. What works for another family should never be more than an idea spark for your own. Also remember that what we see of others is only what they are putting on display, and not necessarily their only truth. Very few of us have it together all the time, even if we make it look like we do.
An ounce of effort is worth a pound of perfection. In fact, perfection equates to tons of deadweight in my book. Perfect is simply not real, and striving for it will always leave you feeling drained and disheartened. Do you really want to skip an activity or delay an experience because you know it won’t be “perfect?” If I did that with my kids, not a single cool thing would ever happen in our house. Do you know why there are so many “Pinterest fail” posts popping up all over the internet? It’s because failing is common; it’s normal. And it’s often funny. Success lies in putting in a good effort and laughing when it all goes wrong.
Lower your expectations…until they’re just about gone. Sounds counterintuitive to success, right? Actually, it’s the opposite. As loving, well-meaning moms, we want our kids to have the best of everything. Unfortunately, this often leaves us putting the pressure of high, sometimes outrageous, expectations on ourselves even when our kids would be happy with much less. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed stop and ask yourself, do my kids want this perfect or do I? Not every project will be photo-worthy, but in the end is that what matters? Your kids just want you to be present; they want your time and attention. And while Pinterest is chock full of crafty, creative ideas for everything from DIY light up costumes to upcycling used K-cups, odds are your kids have no idea about any of them. All you really have to do is show up. The rest takes care of itself.
And last but probably most important…
Take care of you…FIRST. This is quite possibly my biggest hurdle, and one I still have to work hard every day to overcome. No one prepares us wives and moms for the demands of taking care of, well, everybody. And usually we really do want to be everything to everyone we love, but wells only run so deep. If you don’t replenish your own water, there won’t be any to pass along to your family. I’ve tried putting myself last (and still sometimes do), and I promise you it never turns out well. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make yourself a priority and to believe you are one. You’ve made little humans and you care enough to raise them the best you can. If that doesn’t deserve some alone time with donuts and Netflix I don’t know what does!
What are your strategies for moving past the rough patches of motherhood? Let’s encourage one another!